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It's Midnight, But Now You're Here

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Sometimes it was unsettling how lonely it felt to lay in a bed by yourself.

In more recent days, Yuu had forgotten how it felt. Her occupied and busy schedule left her nearly dead on most days, where as soon as she would lay foot in her room, in an instant she was already passed out and gone. It was usually her college classes that left her as exhausted as she was. If it wasn't that, it would be work, and if it wasn't that either, then it would be just the thought of those two either by themselves or combined.

Tonight changed that. Yuu laid in bed while looking at her plain ceiling. Her hair was still slightly damp from her evening shower, and the airy feeling in her room from the nighttime breeze going through her window left her a little cold. She sat up, reaching the blanket that just about covered the tips of her toes, and put it over herself as she laid back down, still looking at the ceiling as if asking for an answer.

She never got a reply. In fact, Yuu didn't know what on earth she was even asking an answer for. Her predicament with the cold was mostly gone, but her growing loneliness was not.

Yuu smiled, but one that mostly mocked her apparent stupidity. She glanced over at her nearby dresser, seeing an empty bottle of melatonin pills sitting upright as if it still had some left. She already knew that bottle was empty, in fact, it had been empty for a week or so now. She never thought that with the current state of her life she would need them again. How foolish, she thought, cursing to herself. Yuu made a mental note to go get some from the local pharmacy later.

But now what? Yuu continued to lay there, the only change being is that she was looking at her ceiling again, and was now listening to the sounds of her older sister's voice from the other side of the room. It only disturbed her more just noticing how quiet it was tonight if she could hear Rei from the other side while she is speaking at a normal volume. Yuu couldn't hear anything she was saying, of course. It was all muffled out by the single piece of thick drywall that kept their room separate. She sighed.

Yuu then proceeded to get lost in thought again, as there really wasn't much to do. She could entertain herself and maybe play a game on her phone, but that would probably make her lack of natural and supplemental melatonin even worse than it already is. There were other things, like reading one of the many books on her shelf nearby, or hell, just getting up and stop making a big deal of not being able to sleep.

But no matter how much she beat herself up for being conscious and mourning in her solitude, she remained there in bed, annoyed at herself. She had work tomorrow, after all. She didn't want to function like some barely living corpse and embarrass herself.

And so, she grabbed her phone.

The light instantly made her go blind for a couple of seconds. Once her vision adjusted, she could finally look at the time that was on her phone clock.

11:58 PM.

It was almost midnight. Fantastic.

After reading the time, it then changed to 11:59 PM, which just made Yuu feel worse about saying up so late. Sometimes she just wanted to be knocked out unconscious, and today was certainly one of those days, and yet she was still here. She prayed to whatever God there was out there to just let her sleep for a good moment before pulling up her messages.

It was now 12:00 AM.

If Yuu didn't go to the conversation she has with Touko, she could have stopped in her tracks and be informed of the new day and its significance. Instead, she tapped on her phone keyboard at a moderate pace and clicked send.

Hey, are you up? I can't seem to sleep

Yuu would probably look back at this and facepalm herself for being so ignorant.

She laid her phone down on top of her chest and looked up at the ceiling again. Though, once she did, she saw a very dim flash of light from the outside world light up a little bit of her room. It then turned off and it was back to relying on just the moon for light. It was probably the neighbors doing something, she thought, not thinking about how it was past midnight and how odd that was in theory. Then, she saw that dim flash again. This time, it quickly went away, and Yuu thought she was just seeing things for a second. Though, she confirmed that she was not going mentally insane when she saw this light start to flicker on and off.

Yuu lazily rises from her bed. She could feel her phone sliding off her chest and onto the floor with a soft thump. Before looking out the window, she rubbed her eyes as they watered a little bit, trying to see where that flashing was originating from.

She squinted. Hard. Yuu thought for sure she had lost it in that moment.

Then she started to blink repeatedly for a couple of seconds, trying to make sure she wouldn't look like an idiot for believing where, or in this case, who the flash was coming from. But no matter how many times she blinked, the flashes of light were still there, and so was her.

The flashing stopped. Yuu was only able to see due to the street lights, an almost beaming Touko waving at her from down below.

Yuu instantly became speechless. She hadn't spoken a word in the entire time she had been trying to sleep, but her ability to form words was completely lost. She wanted to say something. Anything. Even if she was crazy, she wanted to call out to Touko, her lover, her girlfriend, the person who was standing there on the other side of the short fence separating her house property from the street.

But she couldn't say anything.

Touko from down below lowered her hand, then in the opposite hand, rose what appeared to be her phone in the air. The screen was turned on, and she pointed at it, indicating the obvious.

Yuu had never rushed as fast as she did at that moment for her phone.

It took a couple of extra seconds, with Yuu trying to search for it in the dark while it was on the floor, but she was back to looking outside her window, this time while quickly typing and looking between Touko and her phone.

????!?

Was all that Yuu was able to type initially. She looked up from her phone and eyed Touko as she typed on her phone. As soon as she looked up, Yuu immediately looked down.

Touko:

Happy birthday, Yuu

Oh.

Yuu's eyes widened at Touko's message.

Birthday? Now? She quickly turned off her phone and turned it back on, and surely her home screen displayed the current date of April 5th, and as soon as Yuu laid eyes upon it, she started to laugh.

It was a rather quiet one, but loud enough to where Touko could probably hear. She certainly hoped that Touko could hear her, as she wouldn't mind in this case for her to laugh either internally or externally and mock her. She really did deserve it big time in this case.

Not long after her period of laughter and self-realization, Yuu began a series of texts with Touko.

You know, Touko

Touko:

Yeah?

I just realized that today is the 5th

Touko:

...
HOW????
THAT EXPLAINS WHY YOU PAUSED FOR A MOMENT AND STARTED LAUGHING
I'M GLAD YOU WEREN"T LAUGHING AT ME BUT YUU, ARE YOU OKAY??

Yuu looks up from her phone, seeing Touko do the same. She flashes her a quick thumbs up with a smile before returning to her phone screen.

Never been better

Touko:
Please tell me you're not lying

I'm not!

Touko:
Promise?

Yuu laughed under her breath.

Of course, I mean if my girlfriend came to see me right on my birthday at midnight, I think I'm more than okay?

There was a pause, and Yuu looked up to see Touko hesitating to text. She could tell that her last message caused her head to go completely empty, and she could tell that even from their distance.

It was time to change that.

Hey, Touko?
Are you just going to stand there and not come up?

Yuu saw her girlfriend read her message and then immediately lifting up her head in realization and frantically panick for a second. After a second or two, she quickly put her head down to send Yuu a message again.

It was kind of cute.

Touko:

I'm going to come up there! Please do open your window fully!

Then, Touko immediately started bolting around towards the front entrance of the store. Just as soon as she was out of sight and Yuu was about to open her window, it struck her.

Window? She definitely meant hers, but she was on the top floor. How was she-

There was an instant click inside of Yuu's head as soon as she opened her window amongst her questioning and looked down.

Perfectly in place, a tall ladder had been secured directly leading up to her window. Its silver coating was almost glowing in the moonlight, and upon laying eyes on it Yuu had so many more questions, though that was blown out of the water as soon as she laid eyes on Touko. She was directly below now, and Yuu had to admit that it made her heart race a little bit.

"Hey!" said Touko enthusiastically from below. Yuu didn't realize it, but a huge ass smile was appearing on her face at the sight of her.

Touko was really like a child sometimes.

"Hey," Yuu replied back. She looked down at the ladder and then at Touko with a furrowed eyebrow, "Don't tell me you are about to scale this tall ass ladder?"

"That's the plan!"

Yuu's emotions immediately shifted into slight panic and worry at her now unsettling enthusiasm.

"Are you sure you can climb this? I would really hate for you to get hurt."

Touko looked down and placed her first step onto the ladder as soon as she gripped both sides of it.

"I think I can. If I can't, well..." She pauses, and Yuu could tell that she was now starting to consider that possibility, "T-that won't happen!"

"That's one hell of a way to give reassurance."

Touko didn't respond, as she now became concentrated on scaling the ladder trying her hardest not to fall off. As she got closer and became bigger and clearer in Yuu's vision, she noticed that she was trembling a little bit, and she had to suppress the urge to chuckle.

Yuu did not let her eyes drift away from Touko for one second. She wasn't sure if it was because it was her, or that she ran the possibility of falling down and suffering a couple of potentially fatal injuries, especially now that she had made it past the halfway mark.

Eventually, Yuu had to bring her head back into her room as Touko had now reached the top of the ladder, and was ready to make her entrance. Though she immediately grabbed onto Touko's hands as soon as they held onto the edge of her window, and with all of her built-up strength, she pulled her into her room.

Touko made it into Yuu's room at long last, though at the consequence of falling on top of Yuu and letting out a small yelp as soon as she did so. Yuu grunted underneath her, feeling like she was being sunken deeper into the mattress, for obvious reasons. But, it was an oddly comforting feeling, despite slowly losing airflow.

Yuu moved her arms to where she wrapped them tightly around Touko, and all Touko could do is sigh in delight. Yuu could sense the huge smile that was most likely on Touko's face, and it quickly became contagious and transferred to her.

For a good moment, they stayed there in a satisfying silence. The sounds of the night had now become more apparent since Yuu's window was still fully opened, so one could say that it wasn't complete and total silence. But regardless of one's perception, Yuu and Touko laid there, now shifting a bit in their position so that Yuu wouldn't be completely crushed and suffocated to death, still not saying a single word to each other.

Yuu wasn't sure why Touko didn't speak but didn't question it at all beyond that. She was more concentrated on the fact that she couldn't speak because this woman—her wonderful girlfriend—had taken her breath away, both literally and figuratively. It made her feel a little guilty that sometimes she would forget just how amazing she was.

"Hey," Touko spoke softly. It was that same word that she had said directly to Yuu when she was just down the ladder but spoken in a sweeter tone, only difference being with a hint of exhaustion. Yuu could only giggle in response at first, and she didn't mind that at all, as Touko joined her little laughing fit and continued to laugh with her until she was finally able to make auditory sounds and form proper words.

"Hello, Touko-senpai," Yuu said with a lightly teasing tone. She could immediately feel Touko's body flinch at the usage of senpai, which still slightly surprised Yuu, especially considering that she dropped the honorific years ago.

Touko shifted again to a proper position where she could hug Yuu properly.

"You're warm."

"Thanks. You are, too."

"Thank you."

They both started to giggle again at the simplicity of their conversation. Even after all these years, they still had these weird moments in where they just couldn't come up with good words to form proper sentences for the life of them.

Suddenly, a knock on Yuu's door abruptly broke that peaceful silence.

Yuu shot up along with Touko, and she was immediately sent into a state of panic. She pushes Touko off her and quickly gets off the bed in order to grab the blanket from the end of the bed and cover her with it.

In a hushed whisper, Yuu said, "Do not move," and Touko nodded underneath the comforter.

Yuu quietly cleared her throat, yelling "Coming!" before walking towards the door in the middle of an anxiety rush. Before she opened the door, she took a deep breath in, waiting for it to be either one of her parents.

But when she opened the door, she made instant eye contact with Rei instead, who stood there with a stupid smile on her face.

"Hey," said Rei, her grin becoming wider and more disturbing of a sight for Yuu, "Is Nanami-chan here?"

"Huh?" Yuu accidentally expressed her confusion and was going to cover her mouth in response, but she stopped dead in her tracks as soon as she heard Touko shuffling under the comforter, now seeming as if she was going to reveal herself. Yuu felt like her heart was about to drop to her toes.

"Oh, hello!" Rei enthusiastically called out to Touko, who had now gotten out from under the blanket, much to Yuu's horror, "I didn't expect you to arrive already. Was it much trouble getting up on the ladder?"

Touko laughed nervously, to what Yuu could only assume was due to the thought of going up the ladder.

"It was kind of scary, but not too much trouble. Thank you for setting it up for me."

"Huh?!" Yuu began to turn back and forth between Rei standing outside of her bedroom door and Touko casually sitting on her bed, "Did—did you two—don't tell me—"

"We did," Rei's response was blunt and got to the point, and Yuu honestly wish that she didn't say it that boldly, "Touko wanted to surprise you for your birthday, so she asked me for suggestions on how to do so. All of this was my idea, but done with her consent, of course."

Yuu did not know why, but the thought of Touko and Rei working together to do something like this terrified the living hell out of her.

"Of course it was your idea, Rei," was all that Yuu managed to say amongst her terror.

"You say that like it's a bad thing," Rei laughs, her smile softening a little bit, either because she was about to say something incredibly sappy much to Yuu's protest or her face hurt from smiling so much, "But, it was the least we could do. I know how much you've missed Touko recently, especially since you've been busy with college and work-"

"Aaaand don't say anything else, please," A light shade of crimson had appeared on Yuu's face, and she prayed intensely in her head that Rei could not see it because of lack of proper lighting, "I'm asking you politely."

"Got it, sis," Rei glanced over at Touko, and as soon as they made eye contact, Touko jumped up a little bit in response.

"Hey, Nanami," Yuu looked up and saw the big grin on her face returned, which only increased her concern even more, "Want me to bring in the box?"

The box?

"If it's not too much trouble, then yes, please," was Touko's response to Rei's question.

"Aw, you're never any trouble," she aimed her grin at Yuu this time who's annoyance only increased, "It would take you a lot to annoy me unless again, you're like Yuu who really likes to take my shoes without my permission so she can get to see her girlfriend faster~"

"Get o—" Yuu almost yelled at Rei, only to be cut off by her placing a firm hand on her mouth.

"Do refrain from yelling, remember, our parents are sleeping," Rei said calmly, slowly taking her hand off Yuu's mouth, "I don't want you guys to lose your moment together because of that, y'know?"

Rei grabs onto the doorknob of Yuu's bedroom door, her grin fading into a small smile.

"I'll be right back, please stay put. Also, Nanami," Rei shifted her eye contact to Touko again, "Do be the one to answer the door when I come back, yeah?"

"Will do," Touko said calmly, a bit too calmly for Yuu to take in fully. As soon as Touko gave her response, Rei closed the door slowly so that it didn't make too much of a racket. As soon as the knob clicked, Yuu turned towards Touko and looked her straight in the eyes.

"What the hell was that?" Yuu's tone was one filled with questioning and concern rather than anger, despite her colorful usage of language. Touko smiled sheepishly, her shoulders rising up ever so slightly.

"A...friendly exchange?" Touko struggled to find the words to describe it, "I don't know what to call it exactly, but are you okay, Yuu? If you want, I can make sure not to do this again—"

"No, no, it's not that—" Yuu paused, sighing out, "It just...scared me? I don't know, but the fact that you asked Rei for assistance and she went out of her way to do all this to help you out scares me in a way I can't even begin to describe. Not to mention I completely lost track of time and didn't realize that my birthday was close, so I couldn't prepare myself for another one of your shenanigans."

Touko's eyes widen, then she began to laugh out loud at Yuu's words. She put a hand on her mouth to muffle it out so that it wouldn't raise concern. It wasn't that she was mocking her for her perception of the situation, it was more like she realized just how silly the situation had become.

"Oh, Yuu," Touko finally gets a hold of her laughter and smiles sweetly at Yuu, "It's okay, but I will say, your older sister, though you may not notice, is a pretty cool person."

"I...guess...? Sorry, I'm more used to calling her an idiot, but yeah."

Touko's smile only grows more, but was put on hold by the sound of Rei knocking on the door. Any words that Touko had saved up for Yuu were forgotten, as she rushed over to the bedroom door. Yuu took advantage and walked over to her bed so that she could sit down and have a good view of whatever the hell was going to happen between the two of them.

Well, that was what Yuu intended anyway, because when Touko opened the door, she only had it open to where she could see out, but Yuu could not. She was completely okay with it, after all, she supposed it is her birthday, even if it truly hasn't sunken in fully yet. Though, she still couldn't help but be a little bit curious. Touko and Rei were whispering to each other, and it appeared as if Touko had obtained something from Rei.

As quickly as that interaction started, it ended just as quick. The door to Yuu's bedroom was now shut again, and Rei had gone back to her room.

The only difference now was what Touko was holding in her hand. It was a plain white box, which appeared to be the typical size of a small cake box you would get from a local bakery.

Hold on.

"Sorry for the wait," Touko returned to her sheepish smiles as she walked over and sat beside Yuu on the bed, "And if I scared you even further with that interaction."

"I think I'm okay now, but thank you though," Yuu shot Touko a quick smile in case if she needed more reassurance.

"Alright, well, in that case," Touko handed the box to Yuu, who took it into both of her hands in silence, "Go ahead and open it."

Yuu did not realize it, but she had begun to hold her breath in due to...what was it? Anticipation? Fear? Both? Or just something else entirely? She wasn't sure, and she would never be sure, but despite that, her fingers slid into the gap of the box lid and lifted it up.

When she did, and when she made sure that she wasn't high on sleep deprivation or something else, her words nearly lost themselves again, and she would have remained speechless once more. Though, even if that didn't end up happening, her mouth still dangled open ever so slightly at the sight of her gift.

The scent of cheesecake and strawberry got caught in her nostrils, and once it did, Yuu wished that she could cry. She was sure that any amount of words she will ever say in thanks will not be enough to show Touko just how hard opening the box wrecked her heart, in the best way, of course.

"Sorry that it's pretty small," Touko began to apologize as she looked down at the box, a bit afraid to look at Yuu's face, "I wanted to make your birthday special, especially this year, so...I made you this since you're working so hard in your first year of...adulthood?"

Touko's tone becoming filled with awkwardness made Yuu chuckle softly among her state of sudden happiness.

"Thank you," Yuu placed a small kiss on Touko's cheek, and she smiled at the sight of Touko laughing. She couldn't exactly see, but with the light coming from the outside through her window, but she was sure that her cheeks had a red tint to it, "I mean it."

Yuu looked into the box with a smile, and then her eyes widened. She turned to head towards Touko wanting to say something, but Touko's current grin on her face told her that she already knew what she was going to say.

"Go ahead," Touko said, now eyeing the metal fork placed nicely at the side of the cake, "The pieces are already cut and there's enough space in between them for you to just stab into it if you want. You don't have work tomorrow, and also can't sleep, so-"

"Wait," Yuu paused, now looking back at Touko, "I...don't?"

"I mean, tomorrow is Sunday, well, actually it's today," Touko's eyebrows furrowed again, "Are you okay? Forgetting your birthday is one thing but completely forgetting you don't have work..."

"I'm tired, okay?" Yuu grabs the fork and stabs it into one of the slices before placing the small chunk in her mouth.

"Holy shit, this is good."

Touko laughs, now seeing Yuu's eyes light up at the taste of the cheesecake.

"I'm glad you like it, though," Touko pauses for a brief moment, taking in the light scent of the cake, "That's not the only gift I will give you this year."

Yuu stops for a moment to look at Touko with a look of suspicion.

"You're not planning to do something indecent, are you?" Yuu says as she puts another piece of the cake in her mouth way too casually for comfort.

"Wh-?!" Touko's words get caught in her throat, and Yuu could tell that the blood was rushing to her head, "N-no! I just, wanted to...maybe take you somewhere? Not a place to do—things, but, to spend your birthday together, and-"

Touko's words were muffled by Yuu placing a piece of cake into her mouth.

"You don't need to explain yourself," Yuu smiles, and she couldn't tell if it was because of the sweet taste of cheesecake tickling the inside of her mouth or because of Touko, "Let's do that, then. I'm looking forward to it."

Yuu places the fork back into the box, eyeing the little gap of one of the slices being gone. Closing the lid, she gets up from the bed and places the box on the table in the middle of her room.

Then, she turns around, and runs to Touko, throwing herself onto her and pulling her in a tight embrace.

"Woah!?"

Touko was now underneath Yuu. She couldn't see her face as it was now nested in the crook of her neck.

God.

Touko reciprocated the embrace by pulling her in closer, and she never felt so happy to see Yuu be as happy as she was now.

"Thank you," Yuu whispers as she nuzzles Touko's neck with her nose, "I know I'm not way too expressive, but you have no idea how much this means to me."

Touko smiles, the corners of her mouth hurting from how wide it was.

"Happy Birthday?" She didn't mean for her words to sound like a question.

"Thank you?"

Apparently, that didn't matter after all.

Yuu laughs, she couldn't find the right words to say. She was incredibly bad at forming good sentences to express herself whenever it came to it. But, she knew she could rest at ease if it was Touko that she was trying to express herself to, since she already knew how she truly felt.

Yuu raises her head up from Touko's neck and brushes some of her hair from her face before placing her lips on top of hers.

Today was going to be one hell of a day.